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Plan to relax Australian rules for chemicals and pesticides

The environment and health group have criticised the proposal to relax the chemicals regulations in Australia saying they are odd with public health and safety expectations.The first principles review by a panel of experts has recommended to the agricultural ministers that many household chemicals and pesticides should be removed after research by the authorities. The experts must prioritize the agricultural and have to check whether they are approved by other countries.

The National Toxics and Public Health Association Australia said that the first draft report was a recipe for further deregulation that puts consumers at risk and undermines trust. The panel mandated prioritised costs to industry over the environment and raised questions over the industry links of its chair, Ken Matthews.

Ken Matthews is a chair of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia, whose members include the biggest producers, importers and users of pesticides, including CropLife Australia, AusBiotech and the National Farmers’ Federation. He had resigned as chairman of Abca, a position he held since 2015, and the agriculture department had concluded there was no conflict. He acknowledged environmental groups were “cranky” about his draft report, but said the industry was not pleased either.

The national Toxics and Public Health coordinator Jo Immig said to the Littleproud last month about her group’s concerns. The tenor of the recommendations is totally at odds with the public’s growing expectation that a regulator should act to protect our health, safety and the environment from the impacts of Agvet chemicals.

The recommendations seek to place access to Agvet above the protection of health and safety. The panel has relied on industry stakeholder opinions for recommendations rather than the scientific evidence to inform the best response to systemic problems and improve the regulator. Australia has a very lax system of control of agricultural , and this would put it further out of step with the EU, the US and Canada.

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